My web designer, Steve Bennett of AuthorBytes, has started an online journal called The Pandemic Lens (https://pandemiclens.com/). It began in June when Steve ventured out with his camera to take some outdoor shots in Somerville, MA. It was the first time he’d taken an outdoor photo in four months. Eventually he came to recognize that…

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One of my favorite stories is Raymond Carver’s “A Small, Good Thing.” This is the story of a couple, Ann and Howard Weiss, whose son, Scotty, on the morning of his eighth birthday, steps off a curb and gets hit by a car. He falls, striking his head, but he gets up and seems to…

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On Labor Day, I like to give thanks for the fact that I’m able to spend a good portion of my time moving words about on the page. When I left college between my junior and senior year, I worked for a year and a half in the press room at a tire repairs manufacturing…

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Today, as I was nearing the five-mile mark of my run, a woman yelled out at me, “Step it up! Step it up!” Of course, I know this was just good-natured joshing, but on this morning, when I was feeling every bit of my almost 65 years, it was the last thing I needed to…

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Last week, I went pretty much off the grid in my native southeastern Illinois. One of my joys was running or walking at Red Hills State Park, just outside the small town where I grew up. Aptly named, the park has a beautiful lake surrounded by rolling hills. Accustomed to running and walking the flatlands…

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When I was an only child growing up on a farm in southeastern Illinois, my closest friend was often our television set. I’d watch anything—sitcoms, westerns, game shows, talk shows, children’s shows, even a soap opera from time to time. I disappeared into whatever happened to be on, caught up sometimes by the stories, sometimes…

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On Friday, Cathy and I had some unruly bushes removed from the landscaping around our house, and yesterday we went shopping for some that we thought would be reasonable replacements. We were, in a sense, revising our landscape design. “You know,” I said to Cathy, “maybe we should have had these plants picked out so…

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Characters are interesting when they’re made up of contradictions. It’s those contradictions and the writers who recognize them that create the most memorable characters in works of fiction and nonfiction. If we give our characters’ free will—if we don’t fully know them too soon—they can take us to some interesting places that can either illuminate…

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I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks about the reflective first-person narrator who looks back upon experience from a greater and wiser perspective. Today, I’d like to talk about the first-person narrator who isn’t very wise or perceptive through most of the story. These sorts of narrators find themselves so deeply immersed in the…

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Last week, I made a post about the reflective first-person narrator’s attempt to make meaning from a past experience. I talked specifically about the art of fiction. The reflective narrator has always been essential to writers of memoir, and that’s where I’d like to put my focus now. Writers of memoir simultaneously serve as players…

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